The Fat Duck flies south

The Fat Duck

Restaurants open, close, and change locations every day. Usually it's only noteworthy to the people in the local area. However, when the restaurant in question is Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, and when the move is not across town but across the globe, people pay attention.

As reported in The Guardian, the restaurant, including its staff, will travel to Melbourne this December and open in February at the five-star Crown Towers hotel. After six months, The Fat Duck will return to England, and the Melbourne venue "will be used for Dinner, to be opened under the supervision of long-time Blumenthal sidekick Ashley Palmer-Watts, who heads the London kitchen." The move will allow renovations to proceed in the 17th-century building in Bray currently housing The Fat Duck.

Those of us in the U.S. will have to make do with Chef Blumenthal's cookbooks, many of which grace the bookshelves of EYB members. His most recent effort, Historic Heston, was both an EYB pick for 2013 and has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation book award. Heston Blumenthal at Home is the most popular of his cookbooks amongst EYB members, and several of its recipes have been rated with five stars. If you have a favorite Blumenthal recipe or technique, we'd like to hear about it.

 

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

James Beard Foundation announces book award nominees

JBF nominees

Awards season is now in full swing, as the James Beard Foundation Book Award nominees were announced on March 18 (you can view the complete 2014 list here.) If you compare the James Beard nominees to the IACP nominees, there is not a lot of overlap. Overall, the James Beard Foundation list is more traditional than the IACP list - no self-published books were nominated for a James Beard award.

Another phenomenon indicated by the divergent lists is the large number of quality cookbooks being published. The resurgence in the cookbook industry in the past decade or so is undeniable, with television shows spurring a renewed interest in cooking and the internet making formely obscure ingredients easily obtainable (if not inexpensive). Therefore the differences in the nominations are not surprising given the number of interesting, well-written, and informative cookbooks.

Some of this year's James Beard nominees may want history to repeat itself. Last year Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish won the Baking category for both IACP and James Beard. This year, the IACP baking winner, The Art of French Pastry, is also nominated for a James Beard award. Provence, 1970 may also be hoping for déjà vu, because Marcus Samuelsson swept both 2013 awards for food writing for Yes, Chef.

Other cookbooks can't hope for a sweep. Although I Love New York was nominated for both awards, it didn't win the IACP award so it will not be a double winner. Other books that made both lists include Gluten Free Girl, Vegetable Literacy, Sauces and Shapes, The Drunken Botanist, and In the Charcuterie.

Noteworthy nominees that didn't make the IACP list include Historic Heston by Heston Blumenthal, Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop, One Good Dish by David Tanis, and A Work in Progress by René Redzepi.

Do you concur with the James Beard Foundation nominees? Did your favorites make the list?

IACP announces cookbook award winners

IACP winners

The IACP, at its annual conference held this year in Chicago, announced the winners of its 2014 cookbook awards. Stone Edge Farm Cookbook, a self-published cookbook from the vineyard/farm of the same name, took top honors as Book of the Year and also won the Julia Child Award for first cookbook. While The A.O.C. Cookbook may have been defeated in The Piglet (the final round in that competition pits The New Persian Kitchen against Roberta's Cookbook), it managed to snag the IACP Restaurant Cookbook title.

In addition to this year's winning cookbooks, the IACP presented a Lifetime Achievement award to food scientist and author Shirley Corriher. The following five books garnered Culinary Classics Awards, essentially entering the "Cookbook Hall of Fame."  These venerable tomes inspired countless cooks and grace thousands of EYB members' bookshelves:

The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy (Clarkson Potter, 1989)
Invitation to Indian Cookery Madhur Jaffrey (Knopf, 1973)
Betty Crocker's Cookbook (Originally Betty Crocker's Picture Book) by Betty Crocker (1950)
The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen (Ten Speed, 1977)
The Silver Palate Cookbook
by Julee Rosso and Shelia Lukins (Workman, 1982)

If you want to "test drive" this year's winning books, EYB has indexed online recipes for several of the winners, including the The A.O.C. Cookbook, Single Ingredient winner Mast Brothers Chocolate, American cookbook winner The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, General cookbook winner Keepers and Health and Special Diet winner Vegetable Literacy.   In addition, the  E-Cookbook winner,  The Journey  has links to all 40 recipes online (if you are a subscriber), and for this week has opened the recipes to be viewed by everyone, subscriber or not.

To view all of the nominees and winners, visit the EYB IACP Awards page.

Making the Grade

Restaurant grade

Last week we learned that fabled New York City restaurant Per Se received a large number of violations during its latest health inspection. This resulted in a "grade pending" while the restaurant appeals the report. (Some news outlets inaccurately reported the restaurant had received a "C" grade.)

When diners see a bad restaurant "report card," they may think of rats in the walk-ins, rotting food, or something even worse. But sometimes violations that earn a "critical" score are not as terrible as one might expect. For instance, not having a lid on an open drink in the kitchen often receives the same number of demerits as not storing food at the correct temperature. Even food storage temperatures can be subject to interpretation. Some health codes haven't caught up to sous vide methods, so even though it may be perfectly safe to cook food (if done for the right amount of time and with the proper materials) at a "danger zone" temperature, the restaurant will be penalized for doing so.

It is probably not surprising to anyone that when the health inspector isn't around to watch, egregious violations can occur. My husband used to work on refrigeration and ventilation systems in restaurants and witnessed several unsavory incidents involving rodents (both alive and dead) and moldy food stored on wet walk-in floors. Yet the restaurants in which these stomach-turning situations occurred nonetheless had passing, if not exemplary, scores come inspection time. (If you are keeping tally, my husband says that by far the cleanest eateries in which he worked were franchises where the logo has arches.)

I have my own criteria for deciding if I will eat at a restaurant. Are the bathrooms clean? Check. Are the tables and floors clean? Check. Do the servers appear to be well-groomed and interested in their duties? Check. Do I see a cockroach. No check! Is the serving wiping his nose and then reaching into the ice bin? Walk out the door. Did I see someone wiping the floor and then the counter with the same cloth? Run away!

I find it difficult to imagine that the average diner would find anything off-putting in the pristine kitchen of a Thomas Keller restaurant. I would eat at Per Se in a heartbeat, regardless of its latest grade (it had zero violations in a previous inspection). How much attention do you pay to a restaurant's health score? Do you find the grading system in your area to be adequate?

 

And the nominees are...

IACP nominees 2014

It's the end of February, so it must be time for culinary award season to begin. We've already addressed Food52's The Piglet competition, which is in the quarterfinal round, the James Beard Foundation cookbook awards, which will be announced on March 18 (read about JBF restaurants and chef semifinalists), and the IACP nominees were also recently announced. Without further ado, here are the cookbook nominees for the IACP awards (you can view the complete IACP list here). Is your favorite cookbook on the list?

American
The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee & Ted Lee
I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes by Daniel Humm & Will Guidara
Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Baking: Savory or Sweet
The Art of French Pastry (Random House)
Jenny McCoy's Desserts by Jenny McCoy
Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino

Beverage/ Reference/ Technical
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America, Second Edition by Andrew F. Smith
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding & Jose Vouillamoz
The New Cider Maker's Handbook
by Claude Jolicoeur

Chefs and Restaurants
The A.O.C. Cookbook by Suzanne Goin
Stone Edge Farm Cookbook by John McReynolds
Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird by Gabriel Rucker, Meredith Erickson, Lauren Fortgang, and Andrew Fortgang

Children, Youth and Family
CHOP CHOP: The Kids' Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family by Sally Sampson
Baby & Toddler on the Go: Fresh, Homemade Foods To Take Out and About by Kim Laidlaw
Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love by Katie Sullivan Morford

Compilations
The Chelsea Market Cookbook: 100 Recipes from New York's Premier Indoor Food Hall by Michael Phillips with Rick Rodgers
Prep School by James P. DeWan
Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain

Culinary History
Cuisine & Empire: Cooking in World History by Rachel Laudan
An Early Meal -  A Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Odyssey by Daniel Serra & Hanna Tunberg
Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900-1910 by Michael Lesy and Lisa Stoffer

Culinary Travel
The Perfect Meal by John Baxter
The Sardinian Cookbook by Viktorija Todorovska
Cooking from the Heart by John Besh

First Book
Lark - Cooking Against the Grain by John Sundstrom
Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden by Matt Wilkinson
Stone Edge Farm Cookbook by John McReynolds

General
The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden by Alice Waters
Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen
Keepers by Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion

Health & Special Diet
Gluten-Free Girl Everyday by Shauna James Ahern
The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson
Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom by Deborah Madison

International
Balaboosta by Einat Admony
Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes by Ivan Orkin
Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini De Vita & Maureen B. Fant

Single Subject
In the Charcuterie by Taylor Boetticher & Toponia Miller
Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes by Ivan Orkin
Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook by Rick Mast and Michael Mast

E-Cookbook
The Journey by Katy Sparks, Alex Raij, Maneet Chauhan, Rita Sodi and Kathleen Squires
Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less by Raghavan Iyer
Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold & Maxime Bilet

The EU and Danish governments are protecting consumers against...cinnamon!

Cinnamon rolls

Under the general heading of "Huh?" comes this story. It turns out that Danish bakers, when baking the classic Danish pastry treats "kanelsnegel" (cinnamon roll) and "kanelstang" (cinnamon twist) during the Christmas season violated a European Union rule against too much cinnamon. According to a widely printed Associated Press report, Danish cinnamon rolls too spicy for EU rules, "The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recently discovered that Danish cinnamon rolls and twists contained more coumarin - a chemical compound in the most common variety of cinnamon - than EU rules allow. Excessive intake of coumarin can cause liver damage."

So what is "excessive intake?" It's 15 milligrams of coumarin per kilogram of pastry. According to the Danish baking industry spokesman, ""A grown man like me could eat like 10 'kanelsnegle' every day for several years and not even get near the limit of what's dangerous to my liver," said Anders Grabow, a spokesman for the Danish Bakers' Association. "I would probably get too much sugar in my body before that."

What rankles even more is that the Swedish bakers have received a pass from this regulation: "The Danish bakers noted that their colleagues in neighboring Sweden can get away with more than three times as much coumarin in their cinnamon rolls because food authorities there classify them as "traditional and seasonal bakery" for which EU rules are less strict."

So you've been warned - if you're traveling in Europe and really craving a cinnamon bun - head for Sweden.


 

An early Christmas present inspires a big thank you!

It's a time for joy and a time for thanks. And we are thankful for many things here at EYB - our members, especially. So in that spirit we'd like to take a moment to thank our friends at New Zealand's Taste Magazine. They've published an article about us that does an excellent job of summing up why we're so proud of EYB, and we wanted to share it with you. After all, your membership and, in some cases, even more (a special shout out to anyone who's indexed a recipe or book) made us who we are.  And to everyone, have a very Merry Christmas!

Taste Article on EYBPhoto of Fiona

Break out the crystal ball: Next year's hot food trends

Crystal Ball

As the New Year approaches, crystal balls are being brought out of the closet and food trends for 2014 are being forecast. We've uncovered three that create some interesting ideas to ponder:

Eatocracy has Eat This List: 2014 food trend predictions. Two of their editors each describe 5 trends, along with some honorable mentions. The article has full explanations behind each selection; briefly, they are:

  • Fish collars, heads and trash fish
  • Heirloom beans, peanuts and field peas
  • Haute Jewish deli
  • Indie printing
  • Reconsidered rice
  • Raw beef
  • Eating with your hands
  • Housemade hot sauces
  • Parfaits
  • Breakfast for dinner

Over at The Daily Meal, they asked 25 chefs to  Predict the 2014's Dining and Culinary Trends.  We'll let you look at the complete list, but here are some of the food items that were mentioned:

  • Gourmet tacos
  • Pork
  • Dishes from Sardinia, Sri Lanka, Laos, and Malaysia (SE Asia is hot)
  • Lots of grains and seeds - grits could be big
  • Asian mustard greens
  • Coconut sugar

And then we have the Wall Street Journal, which focused on just one trend in their article, Historical Recipes Are the Next Big Thing. As they write, "In a culinary landscape filled with Szechuan pastrami and cronuts, it can feel like our chefs are slaves to novelty, forever breaking with traditional foodways in favor of dishes inspired by artistic whims and enabled by modern technology. But look past the clamor of innovation and you'll find some of the country's most gifted toques quietly engrossed in old cookbooks, viewing the historical record as a treasure trove of ingenious techniques and preparations."

However, as they explain later in the article, "The trend doesn't stem from fetishizing the past so much as from the deeply held conviction that, when it comes to cookery, time-honored methods often trump personal innovation." And, as  Adam Leonti (chef of  Vetri in Philadelphia)  points out, "Recipes from the past tend to lack the precise details we see in today's texts...and that provides opportunities for creative thinking and experimentation."

So if you want to be au courant,  dig out those old cookbooks and see which recipes trigger your curiousity. Sometimes the old is new again.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret to Domino's pizza success isn't the pizza

Domino's Pizza

Every now and then we like to look at the business behind food, and this article in the Motley Fool struck us as interesting. The article discusses the surprising continued growth experienced by Domino's pizza chain. The growth is not, as you would expect, from new stores - same stores sales have increased for 79 straight quarters. And it isn't from new products -  everyone pretty much knows what they'll get when they order a Domino's pizza and there are only so many ways you can spin Cheesy Bread as a new concept.

Rather the reason for Domino's success is our inherent laziness - at least when it comes to pizza. And it's not because Domino's is delivered, but rather it's because we no longer have to exert ourselves to make a phone call. According to Domino's recent analyst conference, "over 95% of smartphones now have the ability to order a pizza without even making a call - and, as such, digital sales have risen to 40% of Domino's Pizza sales (the majority of the rest is phone orders, with only 10% walk-in). This compares to an industry average of just 12% or 13% in 2012.  Mobile sales specifically were up 102% year-over-year."

As a result, Domino's will not be pushing cost-savings or new products as much as they will be pushing the convenience of digital sales. Per the CEO, "We are not in the product of the month club anymore," he said. "You are not going to see us launching things every six or eight weeks like we have in the past. We think that what we are doing is building overall brand momentum by focusing on fewer, bigger things that are truly improving the experience for our customers."

And how does it work?

"Our customers can now create personalized profiles so they can save information, like credit card or address, as well as their favorite orders, letting them order in as little as five clicks or about 30 seconds," Mr. Doyle said "This is great news, particularly for our mobile users who want speed and convenience while using a small keyboard. We expect this to be a very popular feature, and one we believe will give us a competitive advantage over a pizza company without this handy feature."

The bottom line? If you prefer your local, independent pizza joint and want to keep it healthy  - it might be worth taking a few extra seconds to make a phone call rather than a click.

 

Mark Bittman's surprisingly positive view on industrial tomatoes arouses debate

tomatoes

In his NY Times column, The Opinionator, Mark Bittman recently wrote of a visit he took to California to scope out why industrial canned tomatoes can taste better than even the "heirloom" tomatoes he buys at the grocery store. His article, Not All Industrial Food is Evil, starts out with no pretense that he isn't skeptical:

"So, fearing the worst - because we all "know" that organic farming is "good" and industrial farming is "bad" - I headed to the Sacramento Valley in California to see a big tomato operation."

In the course of his reporting, he discovers, first of all, that the tomatoes aren't half bad, "they had a firm, pleasant texture and mild but real flavor, and were better than any tomatoes - even so-called heirlooms - sold in my supermarket."

And second, that the workers are not truly being abused: "It's far from paradise, but it isn't hell either. The basic question is this: Are the processes and products healthy, fair, green and affordable?  Workers in the fields have shade, water and breaks; they're not being paid by the piece. Workers in the plants are not getting rich but they're doing better than they would working in the fields, or in a fast-food joint.

Rominger is managing his fields conscientiously and, by today's standards, progressively. He's also juggling an almost unimaginable array of standards set by the state, by P.C.P. and other processors, and even by his customers, who may say things like, "What are you doing about nitrate runoff?"

This report has, as would be expected, aroused considerable debate - from both sides. Over at Forbes, they take a business-like approach,writing, "While it is nice that the tomato farmers are rotating crops and the union laborers are paid decently, it is inexcusable that Bittman buried at the bottom of his article the fact that farmers are not often paid a fair price for what they produce.  It is a problem endemic in agriculture and, unbeknownst to readers like EricB, hits small farms the hardest."

Then there are the extremists, "What kind of utopian nonsense is this? Is this distant futuristic utopian vision supposed to replace any practice of principle in the real world? Wouldn't the realist prefer to buy his tomatoes locally from a farmer he trusts (and pays enough) to put principles into practice here and now?  Surely only immigrants work all the jobs described. Who here would want any of the jobs described in the article for himself or any of his loved ones?

Either way, we're pleased that Bittman wrote the article - open mindedness  too often seems to be lacking on both sides of the agricultural debate and, when it occurs, it should be applauded.

On another topic, we thought we'd provide an update on a previous blog we wrote on using social media to finance cook-related projects. Niamh, who writes the popular U.K. blog,  Eat Like a Girl, has been using Kickstarter to finance a bacon cookbook We've been watching it with interest - she has two days left andremains shy of her goal. We wish her the best of luck.


Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

Archives